Tlatecuin Chant

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Tlatecuin Chant

Tlatecuin Chant
Post # 1
''I myself
I, Quetzalcoatl
I, the Hand
indeed I, the Warrior
I, the Mocker
I respect nothing...

Come forth
from the sunset
from the sunrise

Anywhere you dwell
as animals
as birds

From the four directions
I call you
to my grip...

Come forth
to be stained
with blood

Come forth
cross my path.''

~Ruiz de Alarcon, II:1 (Alarcon 1992:35)

Tlatecuin literally means ''cross my path'', as of which we can see is the last line in the last stanza of this chant. This is an example of an Nahua (Aztec) prayer for travelers. In this poem we can see the key repetitive features that are so common within Aztec chants, poems, songs and prayers.

Quetzalcoatl, which can be seen in the first stanza, second line, is an Aztec deity who's name means ''feathered serpent''. He is considered to be the Nahua god of learning, knowledge, intelligence and priesthood within Nahua- however he is also linked to the wind, the dawn, merchants (of which we will see the relevance to in this chant), and of arts and crafts.

The poem is also distinctively imprinted by the being of repetition in the sounds of line endings- such as the "tl" in the first four lines of the first stanza, the "an" of the second stanza, the "nemi" of the third, and the "az" of the fifth.

Although not seeming to follow a particular pattern in rhyming, unlike those found typically within in European poetry, this repetition of the ending sounds (in which the voice would be raised) seems to imply a sense of strength and musical unity to the poem, which is appropriate as it is very much, in my eyes obviously so a chant for the traveler.

The content of the chant for me bestows us an interesting peek of an Aztec traveler of some sort, most likely a pochtecatl (traveling merchant) as this poem calls upon Quetzalcoatl, as of whom is the deity of merchants, as said earlier, readying himself for travel: seemingly by challenging the many, various spirits and personifications of nature to come out and fight him, asking them to come forth from each of the directions, the sunrise, the sunset and so on... (as we can see in several of the stanzas), stating that he fears and possesses respects nothing and no-one.

Interestingly so, while at the same time evoking the image of sacrifice that we can see in the fifth stanza, which is vague and enigmatic as to the source of the blood described in the chant, at least it seems so in translation found.

While it may very well be the blood of the foes and metaphorically the challenges the traveler in this chant faces, however it may also be a reference to an act of autosacrifice on the traveler's own part, an offering to the very same spirits he defies, that the spirits please will not provide him with much damage or harm.

And so I conclude my brief analogy. I'm interested as to other's interpretation.
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